Thursday, December 15, 2005

One man down, helped by many

Tuesday (Dec. 13, 2005) was cold and clear and bright with the sun reflecting off the snow. I didn't mind 27-degree temperature as long as I kept moving, but that wasn't the situation for one man down the street.

Hours earlier when I left the house I noticed two men talking, sitting on a low stone wall at the end of the driveway of the house next door. When I returned I saw an unusual gathering at the same spot. Two women and one PMUA worker in his yellow and orange striped reflective vest were tugging at someone lying on the ground. The big PMUA garbage truck was stopped nearby and a school bus from PHS had just pulled up.

The two women had been driving down the street and spotted a man, sitting alone and slumped in the snow. They drove around the block and came back to investigate. They called 911 a short time before I got there but no one had arrived. I called the emergency number and found the operator had understood the man was on different street. I clarified the address and by the time I got back outside two patrol cars had arrived.

Officer Mary Chosney was trying to get the man's attention but, like the efforts of the PMUA worker, the man remained unresponsive. His hat had fallen off and he had no gloves. His hands were rough from hard work and swollen and blue from the cold. Officer Rick Perillo managed to pull him away from the snow and onto the cleared driveway.

While we waited for the rescue squad I went home and grabbed an old heavy white bedspread to cover and help protect the man.

The two women, the PMUA workers and the school bus driver quit their vigil as three members of the Plainfield rescue squad arrived in a jeep. Their rig was out on another call. It took several minutes for the medic to check the man by cutting his coat open with medical scissors--his head was tucked far down in his parka and the zipper wouldn't budge.

Finally a North Plainfield rescue vehicle arrived. The team put the man on a stretcher and took him to Muhlenberg hospital.

"He'll need a new coat," Officer Chosney said. "That one is all cut up."

She said she's contact Sgt. Jeffery Plum to see if he knew of a coat and gloves that could be given to the man.

If not, "My husband and I have a old black one we can give him." Chosney said, "I'll take it over to the hospital and make sure its put with the guy's personal effects so that he has it when he's released."

--Barbara Todd Kerr

KEYWORDS: police, community


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